Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games I’ve played in a decade, if not ever. The game rewards exploration and experimentation with weapons, abilities, items, etc. that I haven’t really seen in another game.
Anyways, I could gush on the game all day- but if you’re interested in it, here’s a great review by Previously Recorded (these dudes are part of Red Letter Media).
Anyways, I was taking a shower and washing my bits and baubles (nice image there) and started pondering how I would handle damage and HP if I wanted to capture that feel of Zelda mechanics.
Here’s the rough idea (completely untested).
I’d use the standard attributes from D&D: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Players would roll 2d6+5 for each stat. This would result in more competent characters than traditional OSR, but hey- this is Zelda.
Traditional hit points are gone. Instead each character starts with three hearts. These hearts, as per normal hit points, represent your vitality and how much damage you can take. Hearts have three levels: Full, Half, and Empty. When you reach zero hearts, you are dead. More on damage below.
I’d like to keep it simple- roll under, same as The Black Hack or Into the Odd.
Things I Can Do
A character can take two actions per round. They can move twice, attack twice, move and attack, look through their pack and take a potion, use an ability from an item twice, etc.
Roll 1d20. Who ever gets the lowest result goes first. Then proceed in numerical order.
Combat and Damage
For melee attacks and defense, the player would need to roll under their Strength. For ranged attacks and defense, the player would need to roll under their Dexterity.
Weapons would be broken down into five categories: Small (dagger, throwing star/knives, shiv, etc.: 1 die); Light (short sword, bow, club, boomerang, etc.: 2 dice); Medium (long bow, bastard sword, crossbow, warhammer, etc.: 3 dice); Heavy (two-handed: great axe, great sword, falchion, spear, halberd, etc.: 3 dice); Large (weapons for larger creatures- must be held in two hands, giant axe, giant sword, etc.: 4 dice); Siege Weapons and Explosives (ballista, catapult, bomb arrow, bombs, etc.: 5 dice).
When a target is hit by an attack, roll a number of d6’s indicated by the weapon type. If the result is even, that means 1 full heart of damage. If the result is odd, that means 1/2 heart of damage.
For Example: Link is wielding a longsword and a shield and in combat with a bokoblin and successfully rolls under his Strength, meaning he rolls three 1d6’s for damage. Link’s player rolls 3d6 and gets: 4, 1, and 3; meaning that the bokoblin takes two full hearts of damage (out of four).
Some enemies are super beefy (bosses, magically enhanced creatures, etc.) and pack more punch. After a Powerful Foe rolls damage, they can pick up any dice that are an odd number and reroll them, attempting to get an even number. This can only be done once per attack.
Armor offers protection against damage from a foe’s blade. The heavier the armor, the more damage can be potentially absorbed. However, the heavier the armor, the slower the characters moves or perform delicate tasks). Armor is broken into three categories: Light (Absorption: 1 die; Move: Normal; Dexterity Penalty: None); Medium (Absorption: 2 dice; Move: -5 ft; Dexterity Penalty: +1d6); Heavy (Absorption: 3 dice; Move: -10 ft; Dexterity Penalty: +1d8).
When struck by an attack, roll a number of d6’s indicated by the armor being worn. Compare the results to the attackers. Each Even and Odd cancels out one of the attackers.
For Example: After Link successfully attacked the bokoblin, it quickly retaliated, hitting Link with its jagged club (3 dice of damage). The GM rolls 3d6 and gets: 4, 4, and 1, meaning Link would suffer 2 1/2 hearts of damage (out of his five). However, Link is wearing medium armor, meaning he gets to roll 2d6, getting a 4 and 3. One of the bokoblins even and odd rolls are canceled out! Link only suffers 1 heart of damage.
The Armor Penalties
The heavier the armor, the more it impedes your character in several ways. First, you move slower. Characters can move 30′ per round (or 90′ with a full sprint). Second, armor makes it harder to move around and perform delicate tasks. When attempting to sneak, climb, pick a lock, etc. you roll 1d20 + the Penalty Die and attempt to get under your attribute. This penalty die is added to initiative rolls. The penalty die does not affect Dexterity rolls for attacks and dodging.
Into the Odd has a great character starting package. I’d do something similar to that- give each character a goal, quirk, one single special ability, and starting gear. Then it’s go time.
There would be zero traditional leveling up in the game. Everything would be earned through exploration and playing. Going through mazes, shrines, etc. would grant boons from Priests, monks, etc. gaining hearts or increasing an attribute.
Magical items would increase attributes while worn (or consumed), grant special abilities, and so on. All the rewards would be given through these means rather than through an arbitrary experience system.
Money would be important for new gear, arrows, etc.
Food and potions would be paramount to healing, staving off diseases, etc. Everyone can attempt to cook. Ingredients would be separated into: Poor (Odd result only); Normal (1 Die); Excellent (2 Dice).
When cooking the player rolls the number of dice indicated by the ingredient category. If the result is Odd, that heals half a heart; Even, a full heart. The character can toss up to five ingredients into a pot at once.
If a character has seasoning salt (or whatever the fuck you want to call it), after the result of the roll has been determined, the character can pick up any dice that are an odd number and reroll them, attempting to get an even number. This can only be done once per dish.
For Example: Link has two apples (poor), flour (good), and honey (excellent). He throws them in a pot with seasoning salt to simmer. The player rolls 3d6 (for the good and excellent ingredients) and gets 1, 1, 4 (plus the odd result for the apple), resulting in 2 1/2 hearts that would be restored by this dish. However, because of the seasoning salt, Link’s character can reroll the two 1’s in the hopes of getting even numbers.
This all popped in my damned head this AM while showering and turned into this as I was jotting down notes… Heh, I think I gotta a little carried away. Hope ya enjoyed it!